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Cross-cultural comparison of acceptance of soy-based extruded snack foods by U.S. and Indian consumers

Neely, Erika A., Lee, Youngsoo, Lee, Soo-Yeun
Journal of sensory studies 2010 v.25 no.s1 pp. 87-108
analysis of variance, commercialization, consumer acceptance, consumer preferences, extruded foods, food industry, food research, ingredients, legumes, nutritional adequacy, nutritive value, proteins, snacks, soy flour, taste, India, United States
This study aims to compare the acceptance of a soy-based extruded snack food by Indian consumers residing in India with surrogate consumers residing in the U.S.A. Soy-based snacks were extruded and contained varying levels of soy flour and grits. Seventy-two participants in the U.S.A. who frequently consume Indian snacks, as well as 67 Indian consumers in Bangalore, India, evaluated the samples. Based on the high degree of acceptance for many of the formulations tested, there is strong potential for the commercialization of this type of snack product. Analysis of variance showed significant liking differences across the samples for the U.S. group, but not for the Indian group. Internal preference mapping highlighted that individual taste differences were more dominant than cultural factors in determining preferences. Although testing of the actual target consumers is still preferred, cautious use of surrogate consumers may be useful for initial stages of product development. Although India is among the top five soybean-producing countries in the world, consumption rates are well below the global average. Because traditional Indian legume snacks typically contain more fat and less protein than the snack studied here, replacing them with soy-based products would improve the nutritional quality of the diet. Despite the fact that soy foods have previously faced challenges in consumer acceptance, this research describes a food product that delivers a high level of soy ingredients in a form shown to be acceptable by consumer testing methodology, and may therefore be of interest to producers of soy-containing foods. This study also demonstrates the usage of surrogate consumer groups to mimic the responses of consumers who may be difficult for product developers to access because of geographical distance, and suggests that developers must use caution if using surrogates to determine potential for novel products by consumers living abroad.